Offliners: When is it time to "Show Me The Money"

11 replies
I am just looking for some opinions, ideas and thoughts on a recent problem I have come across.

I have recently started a digital marketing agency in the UK. We got our first few clients after a month of heavy networking and pitching. However, there is a very good contact of mine, who has setup a number of meetings for me.

Basically, he is setting up a few companies and projects and wants me to do the web work for them. In most cases, there is always a third party involved. I have traveled the country meeting these different people and have had meeting after meeting after meeting for two months now.

Phone calls, emails, travel time, meeting time (2 hours minimum a pop) I can't count on one hand how many working days I have dedicated to this stuff.

Unfortunately, these people all have their own businesses or careers paying them handsomely. They seem to love nothing more than to get round a table and discuss "ideas". They seem very slow to get anything moving again, but are always quick to meet-up and discuss more ideas.

Whilst I am grateful for this potential business being put my way, it's costing me a small fortune to attend these meetings and taking significant chunks of time away from other areas of my business.

Do you think I would now be within my rights to charge for my travel and time for these meetings? I am thinking about saying something a long the lines of;

"I am grateful for these opportunities, I am excited about working with all these people, but I have put a lot of time and effort into these projects already and not seen any income from it. From now on, I am going to have to charge an hourly rate of..."

Is that reasonable?

What would you do?

Thanks in advance for any help or sage wisdom and advice you can offer.
#offliners #show me the money #time
  • Profile picture of the author ileneg
    You say a good contact of yours has set up meetings for you. Perhaps this is the person who you need to better communicate with. Maybe he/she can close the deal and then have you come in once it's a done deal so you can work out the specific details (and you are guaranteed the job).

    This is where you really need to watch yourself.
    ...taking significant chunks of time away from other areas of my business
    If these meetings are getting in the way of more profitable marketing methods, and if you can't do both, then let it go. But first, get them in your autoresponder so you can keep communicating with them.

    Not sure that charging is the way to go here. Positioning yourself as an expert in the hopes of future returns is a method I use often. Most of the time it has paid off (though not always financially).

    Are you interested in working with these people? Are you getting anything out of these meetings? Are you learning better ways to communicate with small business owners and how you can help them?

    Risk/reward - only you know what works for your business.

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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Peters Benn
    I would say that these people have not been presold. Without being rude, I would also question how effective your contact is.
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    • Profile picture of the author EndGame
      Hi Steve,

      All of the people mentioned have asked me to do the work for them and have even suggested they will have work through some of their contacts and friends they want me to take a look at. They have all agreed and asked to work with me, however, the ventures themselves that they are setting up seem to be lagging and taking time. They don't seem in a rush to push it forward, but like arranging meetings to discuss it further. I feel like we're going in circles.

      The contact himself is exceptionally busy, and my concern is, he has so many interests he is finding it difficult to focus on or get one moving. I think you are right though, his good communication abilities could be better, and perhaps so could mine.


      Thanks for the comments. The approach of getting my contact to get the deals sorted and then come to me with something concrete was something I was thinking myself, and might be the route I go for.

      I don't think putting them in an autoresponder is the way to go. Some of them don't really qualify as small businesses and I don't see the value in chucking them into an autoresponder, thats a tool I would use for people I am yet to meet I think.

      I do want to work with them, and have learnt from the experience, but there are so many times we can talk about "plans and ideas". The route I am thinking of going is to say "I am interested in this, but if we are going to go any further, I am going to have to start invoicing you for my time and work".

      If they don't pay, I can work on the other stuff thats getting neglected, and if they do pay, it tells me they were serious when they said they wanted to work with me, which is a win-win for me I think.


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      • Profile picture of the author 5Tool
        You have to decide for yourself whether these clients are worth it.

        One service though you may want to look into is video conferencing or Go To Meeting depending on your budget -so you don't have to spend exhorbitant amounts of money on these meetings.

        It works well for a lot of salepeople and consultants who can't make the trips for whatever reason.
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  • Profile picture of the author tonyscott
    For every invitation that you get to attend a meeting, reply and politely decline with the explanation that you are working that day. Ask them to send you the minutes. They'll get the message eventually.

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  • Profile picture of the author Epicurus
    Hey Al, nice to see you're keeping busy.

    Can you not claim these travel expenses when you do your tax returns?

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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Shain
      If it were me in this situation (which I am not) I have in the past worked on retainer which forces them to recognize your time as a professional. You get paid up front and any travel etc. is compensated by your retainer.

      You have to educate people how you want to be treated...

      You have to decide how YOU want to run your business. Sometimes it just means "no I cannot do that". You need to be able to make reasonable decisions and take necessary actions as you see fit while securing your income from the retainer.

      I am speaking from experience here but you do what you think makes sense to you.

      Best of luck.

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  • Profile picture of the author EndGame
    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the advice. I think that is the line I am going to take in the future. I guess it's just a matter of building up the confidence to do it. Appreciate it.


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  • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso

    Do a solid presell and offer a UNIQUE 30 minutes FREE consulting.

    Thats all the time you have to pitch them Hopefully in a couple meetings you'll get the "touch" and deliver what they need to see/hear.

    All the best!!

    People make good money selling to the rich. But the rich got rich selling to the masses.
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    • Profile picture of the author loremasterwf
      Might help if you sat down and spent some time thinking about what a quality client would look like.

      I have heard Kern (and others) refer to this as a "customer avatar".

      One thing I always do is "qualify" a potential client before committing too much time or resources to them.

      I also ask people who refer business to me to also ask some qualifying questions before asking me to commit time to talk to them, even by conference call.

      Some examples of key qualifiers I use:

      1. Does the candidate (I say candidate because they arent yet a qualified client yet) already own gold and silver bullion (I am in the bullion business)
      2. Our minimum account size is $50k is that in their range
      3. Do they already understand multi-jurisdictional wealth protection or do we need to spend some time educating them

      I find a few simple, but well thought out questions in advance weeds out alot of time wasters

      All the best,
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  • Profile picture of the author RonHamernik
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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      "Basically, he is setting up a few companies and projects and wants me to do the web work for them. In most cases, there is always a third party involved. I have traveled the country meeting these different people and have had meeting after meeting after meeting for two months now."

      I'd need more information to give you a definitive answer but he needs to be paying you some kind of fee upfront if he has a project he wants help with.

      You're not in the business of giving free advice or getting involved with dreamers who want to waste their time talking about potential projects.

      If he has a business making real sales make a suggestion for what you can do to help him increase his sales and profits.

      If it's a start up I can tell you that the biggest mistake newbies make working with businesses is getting involved with start ups.

      You want to be working with businesses that are already making real sales and profits in most cases.

      Start ups looking for some internet marketing genius to make them a fortune are a dime a dozen.

      Even if you get paid in many cases the business won't make any money for a whole variety of reasons.

      The exception you might make is a start up by a business owner who already has multiple successful businesses running and is starting up a business that sells something to his existing client base or to a client base he has easy and economical access to.

      In other words a real business...not just some dream that people like to get around and talk about for hours on end.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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